Elocution lessons can benefit your childApril 6th, 2016 by Anna Michaelidou
How many times has your child said something with such bad use of the English Language it has made you want to scream? There is actually something rather appealing about listening to a child speak eloquently and with a fine tune to their voice.
More and more parents are seeking elocution lessons for their children for a number of different reasons. These reasons could be anything from:
- wanting your child to speak eloquently
- avoid them picking up an accent from somebody that is with them a lot of the time
- to help them get rid of some of the slang they have picked up
- to secure a place in a more sought-after school
- to build a child's confidence
or just to help your child get rid of some sloppy language.
I had elocution lessons. My family are Greek and both my parents carried a pretty-heavy, albeit lovely, accent when they spoke English. It was my mother's fear that we would grow up with the same accent both she and my father carried and it was this fear that made her decide to send us to elocution lessons.
Now I still to this day remember my elocution tutor. She was an elderly lady that had a large mole on her neck that she would twist whenever she spoke to us. And although her name didn't imprint on my memory, I still remember many of the little tricks she taught us:
Granny Grows Great Green Grapes
Knowing how to pronounce your 'G's' and 'R's' was a very important part of those lessons. Miss out one of those and that little old lady would turn dragon.
Then there was the:
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Trying to say the phrase fast would often mean you'd miss-pronounce your 'Rs' and that again was not acceptable.
Then there were the beloved tongue twisters:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
The aim of these tongue twisters is to strengthen and stretch the muscles we use for speech and are often used in elocution lessons. When attempting one of these wonderful tongue twisters you should start slowly and try to make sure that the start and end of each word is distinct. You then repeat the phrase, getting faster and faster whilst trying to maintain the sharpness of the words. If you trip up, and you probably will the first few times, you should stop and start again from the beginning.
Here is another fun one for you to try:
Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks
Elocution lessons today are far more interactive and fun than they were back in my day but I still speak the Queen's English and people still admire my eloquent use of the English language. So, 'thanks mum, those lessons actually paid off'.
What is involved in a standard elocution lesson?
First let's understand the meaning of 'elocution'. As defined by the Cambridge Online Dictionary:
- Elocution - the art of careful public speaking, using clear pronunciation and good breathing to control the voice.
An average elocution lesson will usually involve the following concepts:
Where you are taught about intonation (pitch, stress, pattern, rhythm, pacing) and how to control your voice and sounds.
You will also learn about pronunciation and the right way to pronounce the vowel and consonant system of the English Language. You will be taught how to use your tongue, lips, jaw and throat to produce all the sounds clearly.
Where breathing techniques are learnt to aid the controlling of our vocal chords.
Accent Reduction or Acquisition
Accent reduction comes into place should English not be your first language. It will focus on training your speech to change the errors in pronunciation. Accent Acquisition is where someone may wish to learn a new accent and can be achieved by learning the sounds and structures of the desired accent.
So should parents encourage children to take elocution lessons?
Well, being eloquent and articulate is certainly not going to do them any harm. Elocution lessons help a child improve their communication skills and ultimately become more persuasive when they speak. They can help increase a child's confidence and ensure that they become more assertive and they are more likely to feel that they can join or even steer conversations.
Ensuring children are making proper use of a language can ensure a brighter future for them. Those that have elocution lessons are encouraged to let go of bad language habits and to communicate with a more neutral accent.